Stats Analysis

Ross Taylor: A batting giant for New Zealand and a star at No. 4

Stats highlights from Ross Taylor's long and storied international career

S Rajesh
S Rajesh
With an aggregate of 18,145 runs, Ross Taylor has scored 2679 more runs than the next-best for New Zealand across all international formats. He has scored more Test runs, ODI runs, ODI hundreds and overall hundreds than any other New Zealand batter. That speaks of a career which has combined longevity with prolific run-scoring. He hasn't always been counted among the very best batters in the world - and we'll see the reasons for that later - but that in no way diminishes his overall contribution to New Zealand cricket.
Taylor's Test career can neatly be split into three phases. Till 2011 he was a competent, but not exceptional, middle-order batter, averaging 40.81 from 33 matches. He was superb in home conditions, averaging 49.62, but it dropped to 32.58 in away games. Similarly, in the period since the start of 2018 the returns haven't been impressive: the average has dropped to 34.36, and away from home he averages only 25.82.
His best in Tests was the six years in between those two phases. Between 2012 and 2017, Taylor was among the top batters in the world, averaging 54.24 from 50 Tests, marginally higher than Kane Williamson and Joe Root. He averaged 64.92 at home, while the away average improved to 48.31.
It helped that he scored 486 runs without being dismissed against Zimbabwe during this period (122*, 173*, 124*, 67*), but he had some significant innings against the better teams too, including a career-best 290 in Perth, and 142 against Sri Lanka in Colombo. Among batters who scored 3000-plus Test runs in these six years, only six had a higher average. These numbers are even more creditable given that this phase includes a period - around 2014-16 - when he battled an eye problem which prevented him from picking the swing from the bowler's hand. That might have been part of the reason he averaged only 35.53 from eight Tests in 2014, and 42.4 in 2015.
Taylor's numbers in Tests are good, but his ODI stats are even better. An average of 48.20 over 217 innings is incredible - it puts him in sixth place among the 32 batters who have scored 8000-plus runs - and his 21 hundreds in the format is 31% more than the next-best for New Zealand, despite the fact he batted mostly at No. 4 and didn't have the opportunity to play out all the overs.
And unlike in Tests, where his numbers have faded away recently, they remain strong in ODIs: since the start of 2018, he averages 66.18 at a strike rate of 89.12. In fact, his highest ODI score of 181 not out came during this period, against England in March 2018.
Taylor's ODI numbers over the last 11 years are up there with the very best - an average of 57.27 in 131 innings, including 18 hundreds. Among the 45 batters who have scored at least 3000 runs during this period, only two - AB de Villiers and Virat Kohli - have a better average.
Owning the No. 4 slot
Of the 7655 runs he scored in Tests, 7059 runs came at the No. 4 position, at an average of 47.37. In the period since his Test debut, no batter scored more runs at that slot, while overall, only four have made more runs at two down.
In ODIs, Taylor sits on top for most runs and centuries by any batter at No. 4. While his overall ODI average of 48.20 is impressive, his average at that slot is even better: 52.13. In fact, he is one of only two batters - de Villiers is the other - to score 2500-plus runs at that position at a 50-plus average.
The partnership with Kane
With Williamson coming in at No. 3, it meant New Zealand didn't have to bother about these two slots for over a decade. It's hardly surprising that these two - and their third-wicket partnership - have been the cornerstone of New Zealand batting over the last 10 years. Across all international formats, Williamson and Taylor have put together 8018 partnership runs, including 24 century stands. Both are by far the best for New Zealand: the next-best in terms of runs is 5802 by Nathan Astle and Stephen Fleming, while in terms of century stands it's 14, by Martin Guptill and Brendon McCullum.
In Tests, the 3882 runs they've added is a whopping 58% more than the next-best for New Zealand - 2458 by Tom Latham and Williamson. In ODIs, they are second in terms of aggregate, a mere two runs short of Astle and Fleming's 3814. But while Astle and Fleming needed 118 partnerships to score those runs - at an average of 33.16 - Taylor and Williamson have scored 3812 runs in just 69 stands, at an average of 57.75 runs per completed partnership. This average is fourth-best among the 41 pairs who have put together at least 3000 partnership runs in ODIs.
Where Taylor fell short
Despite all the runs and hundreds, though, a couple of aspects of Taylor's career stats remain underwhelming. In Tests, his overall average away from home is 38.16, but that includes 516 runs for two dismissals in Zimbabwe. In seven other overseas countries - Australia, England, India, UAE, South Africa, Sri Lanka and West Indies - his average falls to 33.55. Among the 14 New Zealand batters who have scored 1500-plus runs in these seven countries plus Pakistan, nine have a higher average. Williamson isn't on top of this list - his average of 40.07 in these countries puts him in fifth place - but he probably has a few more tours to improve his numbers.
In the 50-over World Cup, Taylor averages 37.11, sixth among the 10 New Zealand batters who have scored 500-plus runs in the tournament. Williamson averages 56.93, Martin Crowe 55 and Glenn Turner 61.20.
The run-out king
No stats piece on Taylor would be complete without pointing out this quirk, so here goes: Taylor has been involved in 73 run-outs over his international career, the most among all players since his international debut in March 2006. MS Dhoni is next with 68, followed by Angelo Mathews with 67. Taylor himself has been out 33 times out of those 73, which is a far higher percentage than those for Dhoni and Mathews.

S Rajesh is stats editor of ESPNcricinfo. @rajeshstats